Standing against authority

Most people demonstrate the behavior that the representatives of authority are required of themselves. Even though I do not accept this behavior … It is said that the reason is related to the brain. Scientists are looking for ways to change this.

We think we’re doing what’s right in a difficult situation. To oppose our boss when necessary, to stand in the face of bullying against someone, to refuse to do something that we think is wrong … We would like to think that a moral compass from inside leads us, even if there is pressure on the other hand.

However, most people are not very good at countering the authority. New research revealing the cause reveals how our brain works to cope with these difficult situations.

In experiments conducted by social neurologist Emilie Casper of the Dutch Institute of Neurology, voluntary test subjects applied an electrical impulse to each other.



First of all, it was requested that the applicants apply this shout for a small amount of money like 5-10 cents. In an experiment, it was seen that half of them did not do that when 60 opponents were given the opportunity to apply electric shock. 5-10 percent of the test subjects did not want to use any of these 60 chances.

Later, when Caspar’s test subjects stopped at the beginning and asked to apply shocks, it was seen that those who had never done this before also pressed the shock button.



In screening of test subjects’ brain activity, Caspar showed no change in this activity. The brain became less capable of assessing the outcome of this action. In most test subjects, it seemed that the test subject of responsibility for their actions was relaxed.

“I worked on over 450 test subjects, only three refused to comply with the order, what was the difference between these people?” Caspar said.

Studies on patients who have suffered partial brain injury also give partial answers to this question. It was seen that the most outward part of the brain part of the brain was more vulnerable to compliance with the order compared to the general average.

According to American psychology associate Erik Asp, “These people are very inclined to listen to the authority and their ability to be suspicious of it is much less advanced, so if a competent person wants you to harm someone else, you are more likely to do it.”

Protest center


What is happening in this region of your brain is that it is effective when we oppose authority?

To answer this, we need to enter philosophical issues about the nature of faith and the neurological basis. Although there is no scientific consensus on this issue, the Spinoza model seems to be effective. Accordingly, in order to understand a new idea or knowledge, our brain needs to completely believe it, even for a moment.

After that moment, you can approach this new information with doubt or confusion. So after that, you start to turn and doubt.

According to Asp, patients with problems in the forehead cortex are beginning to suffer from this second stage. So instead of thinking twice about what his authority says, they perceive what they hear as true and real.

If the forehead cortex is the center of the ability to question authoritarianism, it may be a way to strengthen this capacity in healthy people. Asp believes that this region is flexible and that it can change, and that one of the best ways to think critically is education.

‘Believing in the faith’


There is a second factor that determines behaviors. Psychologist Megan Birney at Chester University says we have the belief that if the authority owner wants us to do something, it will serve a case.

In an experiment, Birney tried to measure how many people objected when asked to do something that was morally wrong with the test subjects. The test subjects had to give a negative description to the groups in the pictures shown. It was easy to do in terms of groups like the Nazis and the Ku Klux Clan, which were initially shown. But then more neutral groups and photos of family and children were shown.

Most of the negative definitions of such innocent people were predicted to be emotionally disturbing for most people, and many left the experiment. Those who went on continued to believe that they had contributed to an important scientific research.



Those who left the experiment at half-time later expressed that they had contacted Birney and apologized, hoping they did not adversely affect the work, and were guilty of not cooperating.

“In such conflicting situations, conflicting voices go around in your head, and when a side approves, there is a side against you,” Birney says, “which one is more accurate, if you see fit to your person.

If the people feel themselves closer to a case then this can become dangerous.

Logically, when you come to a turning point, you are expected to understand that what you do is a very bad thing. However, if we believe that what we do is important and valuable is strong, so if we see everything for him, this point may become unclear or it may never emerge.

There is no interest in gaining courage, self-confidence or stubbornness against authority. Here, the processes that happen in the brain and the regions in which they occur begin to show themselves. In determining the limits we will draw in our attitudes, the extent to which we are attached to a case plays an important role.



When we consider this complexity, it seems very difficult for someone to train himself to not obey the authority. But Caspar is working on such a training program.

“Even in the army, the soldiers have the right to refuse legitimate or non-moral orders if they have to comply with the order,” said Caspar, “to make people think more about their responsibilities because they are fulfilling their orders.”

“We need to find ways to educate people so that they feel more responsibility in such situations.”


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